At a time where both the selling and the buying roles are evolving and seemingly changing by the day, it’s harder to know how to successfully approach and secure prospective clients. This blog will address the subject of prospecting and how to get the best results with these top five tips:
- ‘Warm them Up’
When I first started out in sales, it was a very basic and boring process, usually starting with the local yellow pages / business directory and making cold calls. Thankfully, things have progressed in the 21st Century: contacts don’t have to be cold.
Prior to reaching out to a prospect and making that initial contact, it’s useful to warm them up. I tend to use social media (for example, LinkedIn posts) to do this. Posting valuable posts on a frequent basis helps you and your company gain visibility and familiarity before you make your first direct contact.
As well as posting via social media, other ways of getting noticed might be to comment on an article from the prospect, “like” a status update or of course ask a mutual contact to make an introduction.
Ultimately, the prospect should be taken on a journey, which leads to them becoming a customer as a result. Starting this journey with something of value; something that is thought provoking, memorable and/or relevant to their business helps develop a relationship from the word go.
- Do your homework and be relevant
There is no excuse these days for not educating yourself about a prospects business. There are infinite resources available: company websites, annual reports and the like.
Communicating with the prospect, whether it be face to face or electronically, with reference to (for example), a current development plan, builds your credibility and demonstrates to the prospect that you’ve taken the time to get to know them and their company, and that you’re not looking at them as just another opportunity; you’ve personalized their experience and encounter with you.
Similarly being knowledgeable and utilizing such information allows you to be relevant in your communications, identified if there is a fit for your products/ services and ultimately expressed how your product/service can help them. Approaching prospects this way will give you a greater chance of success as opposed to the sales person who communicates from a generic platform.
- Be a trusted advisor
There are many sales people out there in our world who treat sales as simply a numbers game – well, here’s a newsflash: it’s not! A successful sales person needs to position themselves as the first person to call when a prospect’s need arises. Furthermore, making a sale is not the end game: A sale shouldn’t be a one-off, it should be the start to a long-term relationship.
Just as warming a prospect up is important, keeping them warm is equally so. So, set up a ‘keep in touch’ process, but be warned; these people are busy, so when you get back in touch, make it of value to your client, and don’t just call for the sake of a call.
- Don’t try to make a sale!
This one is a tough one to master! Yes, as sales people we’re hungry for that next sale, but my experience tells me that with buyers being sophisticated creatures in the modern world, the person coming in cold, trying to make a sale at the first pass, is the most likely to fail.
Prospecting is a process – you need to build trust before trying to make a sale. Before embarking on the end game of pitching for a sale, let’s at least qualify the prospect – is there a need? What impact is the current challenge having on the prospect’s business? How would the client like to see his business performing in the future? Seeking to understand a prospect shows them that you’re interested in them, so build the relationship, build your credibility and with that will come trust.
5. Ask for referrals
I’ve found that one of the best sources of prospects is from a current, or previous ‘happy’ client. A client who had an excellent experience working with your organization, who has developed a relationship with you and therefore trusts you, is more likely to provide you with a referral to another prospect, or at the very least signpost you towards a new prospect.
Research suggests that the best time to ask for a referral is right after a sale (or delivery) is made, because that’s when the positivity is at the optimum, and the customer experience is still fresh in the mind.
I hope these simple tips will help you kick-start your prospecting tasks. At Miller Heiman Group Middle East, we have a number of tools that can further support your prospecting activity, and if you’d like to know more about them, or any other aspect of sales support, please get in touch.
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